Spoils shared as top two cancel each other out


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Spoils shared as top two cancel each other out Spoils shared as top two cancel each other out

 Athenry 1

 Salthill Devon 1

The contenders for the Premier Division title went head-to-head in Moanbawn on Saturday evening and provided a cracking encounter for the sizeable crowd who came to witness a contest that could have swung the title challenge one way or the other.

An opening-half Aidan Coyle free-kick had the home side in the ascendancy, but with Devon upping their intensity as the second-half developed, they were rewarded for their efforts with a deserved Conor Barry equaliser, and the closing stages provided some of the most frantic attacking action as both sides threatened a winner as the clock wound down.

The outcome saw champions Devon drop points for the first time this season, while for the home side, it was their third draw of the campaign. The sides still have to meet again this season, but Emlyn Long’s side are so hard to beat it will take a massive downturn in their fortunes for them to lose their grip at the top.

The superb surface on the new astro helped pave the way for an open attacking contest with the visitors offering the greater early attacking options. Enriched by recently-arrived former League of Ireland players Marc Ludden and Conor Barry, Devon created the best opportunities that were all spurned.

A 9th minute Mick Lee cross should have been finished by Barry, but he pushed his close-range finish outside a post. Ludden, Vinny Faherty, and Matthew Barrett all tested the gloves of the attentive TJ Forde, and while Athenry had their moments in attack, few offered scoring opportunities.

That was until they took the lead on 18 minutes when a Coyle free-kick from outside the box was hugely assisted by the Salthill Devon wall that parted like the Red Sea and allowed the ball lodge in the bottom corner of the net for a 1-0 advantage.

While Ray Moran and Coyle tried to keep Athenry on the front foot, they struggled to really threaten the central defensive duo of Calym Crowe and Jackson De Silva, and apart from a Cole Connolly shot that flew across the face of goal, the home side threaten little.

The wing play of Lee and Barrett offered Devon attacking options, but a series of deliveries could find no finishers, as Sean O’Callaghan and Stephen Relihan were equally solid at the rear of the home rearguard.

Set-piece deliveries offered the city side some chances before the break, but Crowe headed over from six yards, before De Silva hooked an effort over the bar after Crowe knocked down the Ludden corner.

The resumption saw Gavin Gilmore offer more of an attacking threat for Seamie Crowe’s side and an early shot had Arek Mamala scrambling to save. A Cole Connolly cross set up McCann, but smashing defensive cover by Crowe deflected away his effort.

After back-pedalling for an early spell, Devon gradually gained a grip as they pressed the home side back. A deep Barry corner was met at the back stick by Shane ORourke, but Forde got down well to save.

Barry tried a snap-shot from outside the box, but once more Forde was equal to the task with a good stop.They went closest to an equaliser in the 59th minute when a Cillian Doyle header was cleared off the line by Gary O’Connell.

After forcing eight second-half corners, the visitors’ breakthrough finally arrived on 74 minutes when Barry drilled a low shot into the far corner beyond Forde to tie up matters at 1-1 and in the process set up an exciting finale.

A shot by substitute Mikey Fox tested Forde, but as the game entered the closing stages it was Athenry who looked the most likely side to score. A great run and delivery by Ray Moran could not find any takers as the ball flew across the face of goal.

The ability of Cole Connolly who led the line well and the pace and footwork of Gilmore certainly tested the visitors, as a late Gilmore shot went just wide, while another cross cried out for a touch to finish as Ben Molloy eventually cleared for a corner.

And so a contest that deserved a top of the table billing lived up to the hype, with Salthill Devon by far the happier at the conclusion as matters remain out of the hands of Athenry in their quest to prevent a three in a row.

Athenry: Forde, O’Connell, Duffy, Relihan, O’Callaghan, Moran, Neary, McCann, Gilmore, Keogh, Connolly.

Salthill Devon: Mamala, Doyle, Molloy, De Silva, Crowe, O’Rourke, Ludden, Barrett (Fox 65), Lee, Barry (Diala 84), Faherty (Halloran 77).

Referee: Marc Lynch.

Pictured: The Salthill Devon side that drew 1-1 with Athenry in their Premier Division clash in Moanbawn last weekend. Back row, from left: Andrin Kraja, Jack Arra, Brian Geraghty, Vinny Faherty, Jackson da Silva, Ben Molloy, Cillian Doyle, Calym Crowe, Marc Ludden, Arek Mamala, Mikey Fox, and Enda Cullen. Front: Timmy Molloy, Prince Diala, Niall Rooney, Aidan Halloran, Shane O’Rourke, Mick Lee, Conor Barry, and Matthew Barrett. Photos: Kennedy-Beirne/

More like this:

Sign Up To get Weekly Sports UPDATES

Go Up